Monday, December 17, 2007

I Made a Fool of Myself

Read this post in

Basically Kenny Sia wrote about his experience in the red light district in Bangkok, and ended the post with a picture of him with a trans-sexual who agreed to pose her breast and let Kenny squeeze it at a price of 100 Baht (11 Ringgit). As you would expect it created a furore in the comments, some along the lines of "hey Kenny you rock!"; some say "naughty.... was it soft as the real thing?"; while some censured the photo.

When I first read the post, your truly's response was the latter.

I have always enjoyed reading your posts and is one of your loyal readers; but the last picture is really distasteful. Unless you have asked for her permission to put it in your widely read blog, you have no right to degrade him / her body by subjecting her to ridicule and lewd voyeurism here.

I understand that this post and your experience are all about entertainment and you may not mean to degrade them, but I think you ought to expand your moral boundary a bit wider than not sleeping with prostitute and not doing drugs.

While I expected nothing but more arguments in the comment section, a while later, when I revisited the page, I was surprised to see Kenny's reply to my comment:
Dear Chang Yang,

Thank you very much for your comment and concern. This is my point of view, and I hope that you try to understand and take it into account.

Chang Yang, the situation for transvestites in Bangkok is that they do indeed openly agree to pose for photos topless with tourists. Like it or not, that has been the tradition there and will remain the case for a long time.

One thing you must keep in mind is that she is a man. She is a pre-operation transvestite with implants for breasts. She is not born a female who has cultural boundaries when it comes to exposing the mammaries. And if you think of it that way, what difference is there between a transvestite baring her breasts and male swimmer baring his breasts?

Why is one more offensive than the other when in both cases the subjects are males?

No where in my blog entry have I ridiculed or degraded the transvestite. On the contrary, I find her fascinating and that is why I took a photo with her. After all, the livelihood of these ladyboys depend a lot more on photo opportunities with tourists than it is on anything else. And that is a fact.

I sincerely hope I have explained myself clearly why I believe I did not cross the line when it comes to publishing the said photo. However, even if I did not manage to convince you, I still do hope that we can agree to disagree. Obviously we as individuals have different opinions and boundaries when it comes to matters such as these. Some things that I think is okay, perhaps you may think is not. It's not who is right or who is wrong, but rather the differences of opinion.

I hope that you could respect my opinion just as I have respected yours. I genuinely do not believe that the transvestite will be ridiculed as a result of this blog entry. Unless I see symptoms of that, I would like to stand by my decision. And I hope that eventhough my decision does not make you happy, that you could at least respect my decision.

Thank you very much, Chang Yang and I hope that you have a wonderful day.

Kenny Sia
At that moment, I was actually quite satisfied with his reply. Since he appeared to have no disrespect towards the person, and that he sounded rather sincere in that comment, I kind of accepted his rationale and respected his decision. I still do not fully endorse the action, nor would I do the same thing should I be in Kenny's shoe; but the thing is, I kinda "accepted" it.

Amidst the excitement of having a famous blogger actually replying to me within 15 minutes, I did something silly.
Thanks a lot for your reply, Kenny. I am surprised that you actually took your time to reply it.

Now that you put it in the context, I understand and respect your action. And yup, I always respect other's decisions and beliefs as well as agree to disagree. I believe that with this comment of yours, other readers would come to understand and empathize the culture in red light districts; instead of misconstruing your post as a disrespectful, vulgar and juvenile entertainment.

Keep your great posts coming! There are good reasons why your blog is among the widest read blog in the region.

Greeting from Melbourne. :)
That was meant to be the last comment I would post in that page, so I kind of added the last few lines as some sort of greeting and support to a blogger I (relatively) enjoy reading. I guess there's also an element of reciprocation to his courtesy of replying to my comment at good length.

But it proved to be a bad bad thing to write.
lol @ Chan Yang

starts off with some valid points which made a lot of sense but then broke down simpering with happiness when kenny addresses him/her.
lol chang yang.

like a dog receiving a bone from his master.
Hah I haven't been so badly humiliated since the ReCom arrogant-medical-student furore (day-dreamers should remember this I think).

While reading the comments, I got a bit annoyed by some invalid arguments and hasty generalizations. Some are giving the familiar arguments of "It's his blog, if you don't like then it's your problems la, why complain?"; while some said, "People should be more open minded."

After reading the comments, though, I kind of rationalized over the whole thing and arrived at a new stance. Nerdy as always, I actually spent my time writing a long-winded reply, while getting a good scold from Xuan Ni in the process.
When it comes to sexuality and nudity, I believe there are certain arbitrary boundaries in different scenarios, and among others, those boundaries are dependent on the culture and context in which the material is presented.

For culture, what seems okay for one culture might be a sin for another. Baring shoulder is the norm in Western culture, but in a conservative society the same outfit could be deemed indecent or even heretic. In Netherlands you could safely bare your breasts on a beach, but in a US street doing the same thing could still get you arrested.

Speaking of the context, pictures of various shapes of breasts are acceptable in a wikipedia article about breast; but the same thing wouldn't be suitable in, say, Power Ranger in Cartoon Network. A picture of a breast rummaged by breast cancer could, and should appear in a medical textbook; but if someone is to write a post taunting a girls' deformed breast using the same picture, I am sure that everyone would say that it's distasteful.

In my humble opinion, it would be ignorant to say, "Aiyarr, be open-minded lar, it's a breast picture nia marr, you little children cannot take it then close your eyes loh!" Such comments simplify opinions towards nudity into a false dichotomy of "open-minded vs. close-minded", and fail to consider the factor of culture and context. The world doesn't only consist of two mentalities where open-minded = all nudities are okay and close-minded = freak out at any signs of flesh.

When I wrote the first post, I was of the impression that Kenny has been poking fun at the sex-industry culture without respect whatsoever towards the dignity of the individuals who, by choice or by no choice, became a sexual / entertainment worker. To me, the post seemed to be bustling with testosterone excitement. Not that it's anything wrong to talk about exciting and sensual experience in a red-light district. But I must say that if there was already the slightest frown in me after reading the first 80% of the post, the final picture brought it home with its distastefulness.

Yes Kenny warned about the nudity in the very first line, but the picture still appeared quite distasteful. It seemed to be shed in the light of pure manly joy. As an analogy, I could very well write a dead-serious post about sexuality, begin with a warning that "hey there will be nudity in this post", then go on rambling about the issue, and then top it off with distasteful pornographic pictures done by two penniless girls who agreed to do it with reimbursement. Yes in Kenny's case it's not as bad as what I describe in this hypothetical example, but I am just illustrating what I mean by "still distasteful despite warning".

When Kenny replied to me, I was glad that he took his time to reply to my short comment personally. And after reading his context and views about the sexual industry, I felt that he's been sincere in that his defence that he has never meant any disparagement in his post. How the readers interpret the post are up to themselves, but as Kenny clearly stated his intention and gave a relatively acceptable context regarding the picture, I kind of accepted his reasoning and chose to respect his decision. Admittedly my flatteries might have been unnecessary.

Having said that, if I were him I wouldn't have put up the picture, and despite respecting his decisions, I do not endorse it.(I said " I understand and respect your action", not "I support you"). It would have been much better if he gave a good context in which he describes and places the picture. Or simply don't put the picture at all.

But oh well. Since it brings in tons of hits...
To which, I got a reply:
Chang Yang get a one's gonna remember you 10mins after they close this page on their pc.they will,however,remember kenny sia.don't try act smart la.
I made a fool of myself. Probably I should stay in My Little Moments and don't try act smart. :P


#@$iAmDeep? said...

Don't bother about those shallow freaks,it is just a case of different people with different perception.. i personally can't agree more with your opinions.. therefore i'm with you =)

WP said...

Oh, so he does read the comments...I barely bother leaving comments there, 'cos there are too many, and most of the time I'd just be repeating what someone else has said.

That last reply was really a bit too long :P But then, you're a forumer, that'd be why ;)

naeboo~ said...

i'm glad to have read the comments section in that post as i was expecting a lot of brickbats from the mob.

at least there're some sense in some of the readers (which i alw suspected to be mostly idiots from the way they commented)

thanks for the good read. well worth the effort to type. haha

naeboo~ said...

and yes. he reads EVERY SINGLE comment. and he doesn't moderate them. (unless too disrespectful to someone else other than him la)

don't know where he finds the time too.

lasilasi said...

there are always opposing voices - just do what you think is right for yourself. Afterall, you really only need to care about words said from people whom you care about. It can be difficult when hearing those insults, but I am also trying my best to ignore them - otherwise I'd be living in depression forever =p

lasilasi said...

and hey, u r in melbourne too?

Perspective said...

Haha, I think you argued pretty well there. You've earned my respect at least.

Jaschocolate said...

Speaking up for yourself takes more guts.. Dont ever feel that you had made a fool of yourself. Take care :)

Ka Lip said...

Haha, I agree that you should have just left the issue..

Anyway...tell us more about this arrogant-medical-student


youngyew said...

Thanks for your opinions and support guys, I really appreciate it.

iAmDeep: Interesting nick there :D :D

WP: Haha yeah, I should try to cut down my grandmother's tale. How ah actually? I am not sure with the same points, whether it's possible to cut down my writing.

naeboo: Not sure whether Kenny is already full-time blogger. With his blog income I am guessing that he could live on blogging money alone if he wants to.

lasilasi: Yeah end of third year medicine in Melbourne here. :D I see that you are in Melbourne too! :D

Perspective: I thank you too for your rational words, unlike some people who simply throw rude remarks around.

Jaschocolate: Thanks for your concern! With the making fool of myself, it's not much about speaking up and being refuted by others; in this case it's more about me looking foolish by acting docile and seemingly retracting my initial stance after Kenny's reply to me. It made me appear like a fool, and indeed may look like a dog receiving a bone from its master. But oh well.

Ka Lip: Will tell you over MSN. :)

lasilasi said...

cool! added u to my melbourne's malaysian blogroll (yippie for another malaysian blogger here!)

naeboo~ said...

yongyew>>im quite sure kenny earns more than what he gets from blogging in a month. he's an IT director of a quite decently big co.

hui said...

that was a good argument u made in kenny's blog. do not let those negative comments get to u k..when i saw changyang it didnt ring any bell till i read that you're in melbourne. i dont think you remember me but i was in intec too:) take care over there and all the best yea:)

SilverIsle said...

I got only one comment Chang Yang.

Your grandmother's story is really loooooooooong. =_='''


flyingspirit said...

lol, kinda late for a reply
but sometimes it irritates me to a point where some people just posts replies as 'get a life'-similar-wedon'tgiveadamn kind of responses to long arguments which have really straight points. wooh. try saying that in one breath:)

btw, don't let those comments deter you. you have your own readers as well. lol

youngyew said...

Lasilasi: Cool! :D It seems that you are doing post-graduate here?

Naeboo: Hah yeah read about it in his more recent entries. :)

Hui: Thanks for your warm message. May I know who you are? Can't really tell from the single word "hui" alone. :)

Silverisle: =.="

flyingspirit: Yeahh those people simply know how to ask others to shut up but make no effort in actually refuting my point when they see it as disagreeable. :(

lasilasi said...

yupyup trying to complete my studies by this sep =p had been in the uni toooo long =p